Courtesy of Laramie County Library System
By Sharon Mikesell, Reference Librarian
Laramie County Library System
On the Reference Desk, we get many questions about legal issues. For example:
- Do you have the Wyoming State Statutes? Yes, we do.
- Can you explain what this paragraph means? No, we cannot.
- Do you have rental and lease forms? Yes, we have NOLO books that have forms, but they are general forms and not Wyoming specific.
- I am changing my name, starting divorce proceedings, or filing a restraining order. These are all questions we are not qualified to answer.
We can give information about the books we have, or show people the City Ordinances, or how to use the Wyoming State Statutes, but we aren’t trained to give any kind of legal advice. So we, unfortunately, can’t answer those questions (“we” being librarians, that is).
Recently, we listened to a guest speaker from Equal Justice Wyoming who taught us about legal resources in Cheyenne and online. Equal Justice Wyoming is a statewide program. You can access their webpage at www.equaljustice.wy.gov.
Here are a few of their services:
Volunteer Reference Attorney Program. According to their website: Volunteer Reference Attorneys are available on the first and third Thursday every month at the Laramie County District Court in Courtroom D (3rd Floor), 309 W 20th St, Cheyenne. These attorneys assist self-represented litigants by providing legal information and resource referrals on civil legal matters. Questions about the program can be directed to Equal Justice Wyoming at (307) 777-8383. Volunteer Reference Attorneys do not provide any assistance with criminal matters or tickets.
Free Legal Advice Clinic. Free legal advice clinics are held monthly in Cheyenne at the First United Methodist Church located at 108 E. 18th Street. Volunteer attorneys provide one-on-one consultations and advice on civil legal matters for low-income individuals. These volunteer attorneys will work with you, providing help on what forms to use, what kinds of information you need to start litigation and whether you should consider legal action. The volunteer attorneys cannot assist with criminal matters or tickets.
Self-help resources and information. Self-help resources and information are available at www.legalhelp.wy.gov. Click on the icon Legal Info by Topic. You’ll find a menu with a variety of legal issues. Click on Representing Yourself and you’ll find information on Courts and which one you might need to use. You’ll even find information on what to wear and courtroom etiquette. Each link gives you the options of Common Questions, Resources, Forms (if necessary) and Courts.
Find a lawyer. Equal Justice Wyoming’s website has a section that helps people find a lawyer. There are income eligibility requirements for some of the services provided, including eligibility to get a free lawyer. They also have information on a program called Limited Scope Representation. This program might be right for you if you are above the low income guidelines but can’t afford to pay a lawyer for everything. The Lawyer Referral Service of the Wyoming State Bar can assist you in finding a lawyer who offers limited scope representation. The Wyoming State Bar also has a Modest Means Program for people who are over the income limits for legal aid services, but are below 300% of the federal poverty level. For information about the Lawyer Referral Service or the Modest Means Program, contact the Wyoming State Bar at (307) 632-9061.
Legal Forms. Wyoming is often referred to as a “no-form” state, which means Wyoming does not provide standardized forms. It doesn’t mean Wyoming courts don’t use forms! Legal Help has spent time working with lawyers, judges and other people within the legal system to provide some standardized forms. These can be accessed from their website (www.legalhelp.wy.gov) under the icon of Get Legal Help>Forms Library. Check out the interactive form for divorce without children! Your answers will auto fill the form in a ready print format.
Legal Self-Help Center. Located adjacent to the Equal Justice Wyoming office on the first floor of the Hathaway Building (2300 Capitol Ave.) in Suite 117. There is a computer kiosk that the public can use to review legal information and complete court forms. They have some printed materials and resources. There is a non-attorney volunteer who mans the Legal Self-Help Center from 1:00-4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The volunteer can help people find information on their website or locate court forms and can also help direct people to other service providers if they need additional help.